Saturday, June 10, 2006 

What's more important than 7 innocents killed in Gaza and Hamas responding stupidly? Take a wild guess.

Obsolete did cheer on England earlier in the day, even if it was a tedious game and a tepid performance at best. Still, it's good to know that Sky thinks that side issues to the World Cup are more important than the latest breakdown of humanity in the Gaza and West Bank.

A lot of people have been waiting for Sky News to slowly but surely turn into its American sister, Fox News, so as to avoid the tougher rules in Britain over political impartiality. Seemingly rather than do that, it looks to be turning itself into a TV version of the Sun.

Sky illustrates its story on the weather for today's big match by providing two well-endowed gorgeous pouting lovelies wearing their bikinis. Saucy! Not only that though, we have another World Cup story, which is, err, the launching of football bras. Then we have the sensitively placed middle story, highlighted, which is that sexual harassment is still a problem. No further comment necessary.

Anyway, getting back to the situation in Israel and Gaza. It's hard to know what is more pointless; the futility of the various Islamic and secular groupings in the Strip which think that the launching of their Qassam rockets, aka home made mortars, achieves anything other than the occasionally damaged building or slightly injured person, or the Israeli response, which is the launching of much more destructive and deadly shells, which yesterday killed 7 innocent bystanders and injured dozens more who were picnicking on the muslim day of rest on the beautiful Gaza beach. The horror of the aftermath, which even the BBC vividly showed last night, of a young girl, bloody and running, only to discover a relative or someone she knew, laying dead on the sand. Her harrowing screams were heartbreaking. Another shot, this one only shown on Newsnight, most likely as it was too graphic for the 10 O'Clock News, showed a medic carrying a little girl who had the top half of her head blown off. As he hurried to get her body in the ambulance, some of the remaining brains in her head fell out.

Hamas's predictable response has been to call off their long held ceasefire. They haven't wasted any time; they apparently launched some of their own rockets into Israel, although one according to the BBC landed in the Jabaliya refugee camp in northern Gaza. Their anger had already been raised by the assassination of Jamal Abu Samhadana, the head of the Popular Resistance Committees in Gaza, who was killed by the usual Israeli method of hellfire missile.

The situation in the West Bank and Gaza is beyond simply asking for both sides to halt their respective attacks. The response of Israel, it has to be said, has been a lot more cautious and apologetic than it has been when such incidents have occurred in the past. They have called a halt to the shelling for the moment; something they should consider on a permanent basis. Likewise, the stupidity and pointless launching of the home made mortars from Gaza, not just in response to Israeli shelling and attacks, but also to the continuing economic disaster which is now engulfing the territories thanks to the boycott of the Hamas' government, and the near constant closure of the border into both through which the Gazan farmers can export their produce, should be halted. Sadly, the reaction of Hamas and even Mahmoud Abbas, who was rightly outraged, suggests that no such concession will be forthcoming. And really, why should it? The people of Gaza and the West Bank made their democratic decision, only for it to be rejected and for them to be punished for making the "wrong" choice. The constant shelling in response to the pathetic mortars is out all of proportion, and does amount to collective punishment. The withdrawal from Gaza of the Jewish settlers has only resulted in the Strip becoming even more of a prison, and in this case one in which hardly any of the prisoners are even getting paid for the work they are doing.

All we can hope for is that Abu Mazen's plan to hold a referendum on the recognition of Israel and the prisoner plan for peace will embarrass Hamas into doing what its leaders have said informally for years; that they will leave it to their children to decide what to do if the Palestinians finally get their viable state. The other option may well be the even more radical Islamic Jihad; something that no one wants to happen. The Israeli government should respond by giving both Hamas and Abbas breathing space for the referendum to take place. Any attempt to redraw the borders around the "security" wall, while removing a minority of settlers from the West Bank will not lead to peace. The viable two state solution is the only solution.

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Friday, June 09, 2006 

Sun, Star and Express-watch: Burying bad news.

Today's Sun for once has a serious news story on its front page. Rather than still obsessing over Lady Mucca's ancient photo shoot, they quite predictably have a bit of a song and dance over the death of al-Zarqawi. Nothing wrong with that particularly, although whether he was personally responsible for the deaths of thousands, or that he deserved a violent death, whatever he had done, is questionable, as the Sun says in its leader. What is wrong is the fact that the Sun has been burying some of the more "bad" news from Iraq.

Arab Media Watch noticed that the Sun, Daily Express and Daily Star have not printed a word about the alleged massacres by US troops of Iraqi civilians at Haditha and Ishaqi. Asked for their response as to why they didn't decide to print this bad or troubling news, the Sun told the AMW that they would get back to them. They haven't. Someone at the Daily Express was a little more verbose. He/she, claiming to be the news editor, said:

Why should we tell you? It is not a forum for discussion, it is not a debating society, it is a newspaper.
Some would disagree with the Express being a newspaper, but his/her response is typical of the arrogance of tabloid news editors being questioned over what they consider newsworthy. Only "they" know what the public want. The real Express news editor later got in touch with AMW, who report the following:

Express news editor Greg Swift told AMW he was not the person who responded to our request for comment on this lack of coverage by saying: "Why should we tell you? It is not a forum for discussion, it is not a debating society, it is a newspaper." As someone else at the Express wrongly claimed to be the news editor (Swift said he is the only one at the paper), AMW is not to blame for the error, but nonetheless apologises to him for any inconvenience caused, and has removed specific reference to him in the initial press release on our website.

Swift said the Express did report the Haditha massacre, but AMW has not found evidence of this in print or through LexisNexis.
The Daily Star also responded, with the reply coming back from the AMW:

The Star emailed AMW the following statement: "The Daily Star is about giving readers a smile with their morning newspaper. We specialise in celebrity, television, sport and fun, upbeat stories. Our readers - being the youngest and most new technology aware in the UK - will have got their hard, international political news stories from television and internet news services."

However on 7 June, the day after AMW's initial press release, the Star had a half-page article entitled "Boy, 4, kills himself making a sarnie", with the subheading "Horror as knife goes through lad's heart". On 8 June, it reported rape allegations ("I'm no rapist") and an anthrax scare in Parliament ("MPs anthrax fear"). These can hardly be described as "fun, upbeat" stories "giving readers a smile".

The 7 June edition also reported three British soldiers being cleared of killing an Iraqi boy ("Squaddies in the clear"). On 8 June, it reported "a British computer whiz kid" being "at the heart of an international al-Qaida terror network" linked to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, "al-Qaida's top man in Iraq who mercilessly slaughtered Brit hostage Ken Bigley." These are surely "hard", political news stories with an international dimension, and further raise AMW's concerns that coalition abuses in Iraq are not getting the attention they deserve.
Back to the Sun, who have yet to respond to AMW's concerns, and where it's not the first time that concerns over the behaviour of coalition forces have been buried. Bloggerheads reports on the Sun's coverage of the Abu Gharib prisoner abuse scandal:

For example, when the images of torture in Abu Ghraib were front page news, The Sun buried it on page 6, with less than a 1/4 page, 130 words and a teeny-tiny picture. The next day, leading with George W. Bush's version of events, they used 229 words. And that was about it.
Not that all of News International has been so silent about abuses. The Times reports on the Haditha massacre attracted the wrath of Michelle Malkin, the bat shit insane right-winger, when they used the wrong photograph. The photograph on their website report of the massacre was actually that of 19 Shia fishermen killed by Sunni insurgents, rather than the 24 allegedly killed by the US marines. Despite one of the editors' quickly making things right and apologising profusely, Malkin and her readers weren't satisfied, one of whom came up with this completely bone-headed anaylsis:

That would be Rupert Murdoch who is holding fundraisers for Hillary Clinton. Small world.
Err, yes, it would also be the same Rupert Murdoch who owns Fox News, and hundreds of newspapers across the globe, every one of which supported the Iraq war. It would also be the same Rupert Murdoch who said the best thing to come out of the Iraq war would be $20 for a barrel of oil, not the finding of WMD or ridding the Iraqi people of a hated tyrant. All Hillary Clinton is doing is sucking up to Murdoch, much like Blair did prior to the Sun coming out in favour of Labour in 1997. It should also be noted that Hillary Clinton is more gung-ho over Iran than many Republicans, which no doubt fits with Murdoch's own political views.

What is typical is the Sun's reporting only of the good news from Iraq, or of the cycle of death which is close to civil war. There must be no bad name given to the liberators who are there saving the Iraqis from themselves. No one is suggesting that all of them are murdering out of control bastards, but when you don't even devote a single word to the matter of such a horrible apparently covered-up massacre, especially when it featured on the Times' front page, not known for being quick to condemn the army, it makes you look like a propaganda rag purely for the neo-conservative cause. And that of course, is exactly what the Sun is. It's also worth remembering the amount of criticism the News of the Screws came in for when it published the story about the British servicemen who beat up a number of Iraqi youths after they were apparently attacked with stun grenades and stones. If it puts "our boys" in danger, then it looks like the Sun will no longer touch it.

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Thursday, June 08, 2006 

So. Farewell then Abu-Musab al-Zarqawi.

Well, the seemingly unkillable has met his end. Despite numerous former reports about the terrorist leader being killed, losing limbs or generally not being in the land of the living, two 500lb bombs were dropped on a house where he was staying, killing him and 5 others in the process, although his body seems to be rather intact considering how badly the house itself has been destroyed.

Although there is no doubting that al-Zarqawi was in some ways a bogeyman for the coalition forces in Iraq, he certainly was involved in the planning of suicide bombings and of sectarian violence. No one should weep any tears for the loss of such a brutal, despicable man, and unlike the recent attack in Pakistan aimed at killing al-Qaida's second in command, it seems that by contrast such a strike can be justified, although whether the parading of his body is either wise or in good taste is questionable.

What should be examined now is just how much of the blame for the violence in Iraq can actually be blamed either on him or on his grouping. While his organisation was renamed al-Qaida in Iraq, mainly for the purpose of intimidating and frightening Westerners and Iraqis alike, it's unclear whether Zarqawi had any genuine links to real al-Qaida supporters or not. Zarqawi himself, according to Juan Cole, had originally been critical of al-Qaida, and had been if anything, a rival to that so-called organisation. Zarqawi's past is also eye-opening; he was apparently an out of control young man in Jordan, which would seemingly explain his tattoos. Like Sayyid Qutb, who many consider the starting block for what became the radical Islamist movement, he became fully radicalised in jail, (Qutb visited American society and found himself disgusted by it, which led to the beginnings of his own radicalism; he was hanging in Egypt in 1966) before going to Afghanistan where according to today's Guardian obituary he edited a magazine for demobilised mujaheddin in the aftermath of the CIA-backed and funded war against the Soviets, and met bin Laden.

Also of note is the supposed letter from al-Zawahiri, the aforementioned second in command of what remains of al-Qaida, which told al-Zarqawi in no uncertain terms what he was doing wrong. Zawahiri denounced the beheadings carried out, including that of Ken Bigley, whom it has constantly been rumoured was personally decapitated by Zarqawi. Zawahiri told him that he risked losing the support of those who opposed the occupation of Iraq in the Middle East. It's unknown whether Zarqawi responded to Zawahiri's criticisms.

What is known is that Washington was involved in a demonisation and propaganda campaign against Zarqawi, highly overstating his actual involvement in everyday attacks both on Iraqi civilians and coalition forces. Donald Rumsfeld continued that campaign even today, when he said that of Zarqawi: "arguably no other single person on the planet had more blood of innocent men women and children on his hands in recent years."

As a result, we have inevitably had various people reporting today that his death marks yet another turning point. We shall have to see, although it seems doubtful. The death of one man, especially one whose reputation had been massively inflated, does seem like a sort of victory, much like the capture of Saddam Hussein for a while had everyone thinking that the insurgency would fade away. It didn't. Zarqawi will soon no doubt be having his image sold in certain parts of the Middle East, maybe in the way that Che Guevara's image has become ubiquitous in the west. He might have his 77 virgins. We still have to pick up the pieces of a country which we have helped destroy.

Update: I'm going to paste the following from a post on Comment is Free by SimonRalli, who has more spare time than I do:
Let's check I have this right!

Lost a leg in 2002 (but US later changed their tune)

Killed in March 2004

Came back to life to personally behead Nick Berg (post-Abu Ghraib photo release)
(interesting as no one in that video appeared to be handicapped - Zarqawi had one leg amputated)

Killed again in Oct. 2004

Seriously injured or killed in May 2005

Zarqawi shot in chest/lung in May 2005

Killed and body in Falluja cemetery in June 2005

And now killed again in Nov. 2005

Baghdad imam says Zarqawi killed at beginning of US invasion

Backed up by this March 2004 article

Update 2: Corrected some erroneous details.

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Wednesday, June 07, 2006 

Rendition flashback.

Q 23. Unless we all start to believe in conspiracy theories and that the officials are lying, that I am lying, that behind this there is some kind of secret state which is in league with some dark forces in the United States, and also let me say, we believe that Secretary Rice is lying, there simply is no truth in the claims that the United Kingdom has been involved in rendition full stop, because we have not been, and so what on earth a judicial inquiry would start to do I have no idea.

I do not think it would be justified. While we are on this point, Chairman, can I say this? Some of the reports which are given credibility, including one this morning on the Today programme, are in the realms of the fantastic.

The full extent of European collusion with the CIA during operations to abduct terrorism suspects and fly them to countries where they may be tortured is laid bare today by the continent's most authoritative human rights body.

Several states have allowed the agency to snatch their own residents, others have offered extensive logistical support, while many have turned a blind eye, according to the Council of Europe.

The UK stands accused of not only allowing the use of British airspace and airports, but of providing information that was used during the torture of one suspect. The report adds that there is strong evidence to suspect two European states, Poland and Romania, of permitting the CIA to operate secret prisons on their soil, despite official denials.
and now today, Tony Blair continues to see no evil, speak no evil and hear no evil:
"We have said absolutely everything we have to say on this," Mr Blair replied. "There is no more to add to that. The report adds absolutely nothing to the information we already have. We have kept parliament informed."
How about condemning the practice of rendition? How about asking, nay, demanding the United States to come clean about whether they have been using UK airspace to transport prisoners, or even just to refuel their jets? Their current denials are not good enough given the evidence. How about telling us who gave information to the Moroccans which was used in the torture of a man, and why was it, knowing full well how it would be used? How about ordering a full inquiry to get to the bottom of what has actually happened? No, that might result in some unpleasant and uncomfortable facts coming out. Instead, all we have is the silence of the complicit.

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Sun-watch: Yes, even more Lady Mucca.

The Sun is certainly nothing if not consistent. For the third day visitors to the website are being treated to yet more photographs of Heather Mills in very few clothes. But what's this? Could it be that the Sun is putting words and deeds into the mouth of the man who is with Mills in the photos, or even shock horror, appealing to him to come forward so he can earn a nice wad for starring in some mucky book?

LADY Mucca’s partner in porn is set to tell the world they had passionate sex over and over again after the cameras stopped clicking.

The curly-haired male model is hoping to bag thousands of pounds by selling his story of how he did it for real with Heather Mills.

His move will heap yet more shame on Sir Paul McCartney’s estranged wife — mother of his two-year-old daughter Beatrice.

Yet at the end of the article the Sun asks:
DO you know the man in the pictures with Heather?

and separately online:
DO you know the man who stars in the sex book with Heather Mills?

We revealed exclusively on Monday that she posed for the hardcore porn book in 1988.

Many of the pics were too explicit to print.

We want to hear from you if you know the male model who is her co-star.

Call our newsdesk on 0207 782 4104 or email

Don't worry about the cost, we'll call you straight back.

Accuse me of being cynical, but could it be that the Sun wants to pay the man a large amount of money to tell them that everything they've accused Heather of is true, and that they had sex after the actual shoot? That would surely mean that the Sun is making up the news, not reporting on it.

Speaking of making up the news, something else in the Sun's article makes me wonder about the impartiality and truth of their supposed asking people on the street whether they thought the book was pornographic. One of those asked is:
Journalist Ruth Lumley, 26, of Brighton, said: “Blimey, I’ve never come across a ‘sex education’ book that has whipped cream in it.”

You might remember the name Ruth Lumley, but not what for. She was the journalist who replied to a piece of graffiti on a train asking young girls to text a number for sex. Her investigation resulted in four men being jailed. Rather a coincidence that such a journalist would be wandering around the streets of Brighton and just happen to bump in to a Sun lackey, isn't it? Makes you wonder whether catering worker Madeline Johnson, facilities manager John Bertram, printer Andrew Love and engineer Stuart Lye might just happen to be News International employees, doesn't it? Apparently no one who they "approached" agreed that it was sexually educating, as there are no such sentiments expressed in the Sun's article. Funny that.

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Tuesday, June 06, 2006 

Give them what they want.

Instead of pontificating myself on the lack of an independent inquiry into the bombings of the 7th of July, I'll leave it to those who survived them. Rachel North is eloquent as ever, and Holly Finch also calls for one.

What I will say is that the arguments by John Reid, namely in pointing to the example of the botched Saville inquiry into Bloody Sunday, and also that it will divert resources from current anti-terrorism actions, is that the first is nothing more than a pathetic excuse and mistake of the government's own making, in allowing a cocked-up investigation to continue for so long, while the second looks stupid when 250 police officers are apparently required to terrorise a neighbourhood and find nothing on a solitary tip-off that looks to be badly incorrect. What is wrong is the way that the petition and so much of the debate surrounding the attacks has been taken over by the conspiracy theorists, who apparently would rather believe their own ridiculous theories than the people who survived. That said, it doesn't help when the loathsome Peter Power, who was supposedly running an "exercise" on the day, pops up on the news commenting on the terrorism raid and report by the London assembly. His attempts to profit out of the misery of others are deeply upsetting.

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Sun-watch: More "Lady Mucca".

The Sun's journalists really do feel nothing but contempt for their readers. Victoria Newton, the paper's piss-poor Showbiz editor, along with Henry Austin (who he?) have recruited the creator of the Lover's Guide to help convince them that the book Heather Mills appeared in was pornographic, after she denied that the book was "hardcore porn" and rather a lover's guide.

He said nothing of the sort. What he did say was, mostly plugging his own wares:
“What we do is erotic rather than pornographic. We show people how to do it without showing everything off.

“This, on the other hand, does it in a particularly lewd manner.”

“Maybe they do things differently in Germany.

“But I think they’re closer to something you might find in a top shelf magazine, rather than an instruction manual.”
Completely unlike the near top shelf exploits of the Sun's third page and its accompanying website, of course. Or the Sun's shameless showing off of its collection of Mills' photographs, of which there are another 7 today. Of those, 5 clearly show Mills' breasts, and one censors what would otherwise show her nether regions. It also censors the man's seeming erection.

Still, perhaps the Sun would like to argue with the British Board of Film Classification's view of sex education material and hardcore material. The BBFC's guidelines are as follows:

Sex Education at ‘18’

Where sex material genuinely seeks to inform and educate in matters such as human sexuality, safe sex and health, exceptions to the normal constraints on explicit images may be made in the public interest. Such explicit detail must be kept to the minimum necessary to illustrate the educational or instructional points being made.

Sex Works at ‘18’

Sex works are works, normally on video or DVD, whose primary purpose is sexual arousal or stimulation. Sex works containing material which may be simulated are generally passed ‘18’, while sex works containing clear images of real sex are confined to the ‘R18’ category.

It seems very likely that Mills' so-called hardcore material would be suitable at the 18 certificate. Let's not let that get in the way of Rebekah Wade's scoop though, as she has been desperate for them of late, what with the Screws' printing more crap that she was once renowned for getting, and with the Mirror exposing John Prescott, a natural Sun story. The difference is that Mills did this shoot 20 years ago; it was only a few years ago that Wade disgraced herself by publishing child pornography downloaded from a website in comparison with an exhibition by an artist which featured a portrait of her children naked. Rather than "shaming" celebrities with what they did when they were young, Wade would perhaps be better looking over her shoulder and wondering how much longer she has left in the Scum's hot seat.

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Mahzer Mahmood: Up to his old tricks; Protest at News of the Screws.

Hat tip to the void.

Obsolete's old friend, Screws' "journalist" Mahzer Mahmood has been up to his old tricks. His latest hilarious wheeze was to pretend to be a mini-bus driver, picking up "migrants", only to take them to the Colnbrook detention centre. Sounds like kidnap, doesn't it? Rather than inform the authorities of these supposed illegal migrants, the News of the Screws takes the law into its own well oiled vigilante hands (printing photographs of alleged paedophiles will never be forgotten, or forgiven) and delivers them to a centre where those who have found it their temporary home have been on hunger strike in protest at their conditions.

He's also allegedly exposed some east London solicitors who were "coaching" their clients into how to convince the immigration authorities that they are legitimate asylum seekers. After being exposed by Galloway and by blogs which in solidarity published his photograph, it seems Mahmood has been left to pick on even more vulnerable people who are unlikely to be able fight back. Even so, the detainees at Colnbrook have written to the Screws:

Dear Mr. Mahmood,

We, the detainees of Colnbrook Detention Centre think that you are a gutless, incompetent bully, and together with your editors and newspapers pick on foreigners because they are a soft target. You do not represent the real views of the common UK nationals, but rather, you have been misleading the general public with your unfair, ill-informed partial news for years. You have influenced the way this government perceives it should deal with refugees and asylum, by presenting it as incompetent, to make it adopt inhuman policies against people who have fled their countries of origin for one reason or another. This has led to refugees not seeking asylum with the authorities, for fear of being detained and removed to countries where their lives would be in danger. This has in turn pushed those refugees to provide for their survival by being exploited to work long hours for very low pay (such as the ones you helped catch), for those very fears.

From your name, I can tell that you are a descendant of immigrants. In your quest to further your career, to please your bosses, to embarrass the government, and for whatever other selfish motives you may have in taking advantage of foreigners in the UK, we wonder how you sleep at night. You should reconsider your position by educating yourself on refugees, asylum seekers and immigrants' issues before you unfairly target them. You should go back to your roots and stop thinking that you are better than any other foreigners just because you hold British citizenship.

Well done for doing none of your business, and encouraging vigilanteism. You would be very much at home with the BNP and Migrant Watch, Mr. Mazer Mahmood (News of the World) for your Nazi-like work of spreading hate and kidnapping people to detention centres ( UK concentration camps). Print this in your hate paper if you have the spine!

Read below and enlighten your ignorant self.

Victims of Intolerance! - 'Asylum Madness' in the UK

'The Sun, Daily Mail, Daily Express, Daily Star and their three Sunday stablemates - *News of the World, Mail on Sunday and Express on Sunday,' slammed by UNHCR report

"Ill-informed or sloppy journalists or editors are one thing: they can always be better informed. A media organization that deliberately pursues an agenda which is applied to all its contents - not just the editorials and opinion columns, but also the news coverage - is something altogether more deadly."

UNHCR have published their quarterly 'Refugees' magazine, this issue 'examines the phenomenon of intolerance in many parts of the world and exposes the myths and misperceptions that give rise to it.'

António Guterres UN High Commissioner for Refugee in the introduction says: "In some countries, deliberate attempts to dehumanise asylum seekers are continuing, always presenting them as menacing statistics, as criminals and bringers of disease, or as some other form of generalised abstract aberration that is easy to hate,"

"In an increasing number of countries, asylum seekers - and the refugees among them - have become a tool for political demagogues, or have been turned into faceless bogeymen by an unscrupulous popular press. "

The report devotes two pages to the media in the UK, reprinted below:

London No Borders is additionally organising a protest outside the Screws' offices:

(off The Highway, nearest tube Tower Hill - District & Circle, or DLR Tower Gateway)

Obsolete can't be there, but there is something you can do if you also can't attend. Ever wanted to talk to Mahmood or one of his lackeys? The Screws' helpfully published his email address and phone number at the end of his last story. His phone number is 020 7782 4402 or you can email him at

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Monday, June 05, 2006 

What to believe?

The reporting on the terrorist raid in Forest Green has not been the police's finest hour, nor has it been the media's. While you expect some confusion and initially wrong details, the press and police have been spouting crap from the minute that the 250 police officers smashed their way in at 4am on Friday morning.

Gradually the police and Scotland Yard have been lowering our expectations that a viable bomb, poison or weapon will be found. This morning the Guardian reported that "confidence among officials was waning" and a "senior police source" had said:

"The public may have to get used to this sort of incident, with the police having to be safe rather than sorry."

Now this evening the Assistant Commisioner is telling us:
Police had "no choice" but to raid a house in east London after being told a chemical device might be found there

True, but that doesn't really make up for all the speculation that has circulated since the event. Both the Daily Mail and Times ran on Saturday with the story that the police were looking for a "suicide vest", that would either pump out a deadly poison, or that would have poison inside it that would be released when the person set off his explosives. The BBC had a police officer deny it later in the day. Yesterday the Sunday Express cleared the front page for the banner headline "ANTHRAX TERROR BOMB HUNT", while the News of the Screws, the paper of choice for cops to leak to, had the "exclusive" that the police were looking for an "explosive device designed to spray out deadly cyanide".
They also had a photo of the shot suspect looking very menacing in black and white, along with the claim that one of the brothers had tried to grab the gun, which with its safety catch off, somehow managed to shoot one of the men. This has been categorically denied by the men's lawyers. Along with this, the News of the Screws (proprietor:R. Murdoch), unbelievably shoehorns in a reference to the television TV series 24 (made by 20th Century Fox: proprietor:R. Murdoch) currently showing on Sky (proprietor:R. Murdoch) claiming that the plot was for the device to be set off in a "enclosed and busy shopping centre", which mirrors a similar conspiracy in the current series. The whole Screws article screams of a hatchet job; they have a "neighbour" claiming that there had been a series of "violent incidents" outside the house in recent years, which seems rather at odds with the testimony of another neighbour in other coverage which said that they had stepped in to stop fights. There's more on this over at Lenin's Tomb.

Why 250 police were needed (the Screws' claims the real figure was nearer 300) is not clear. All they had to was raid one property, although the Guardian reports that the next door neighbours had a rather shocking and violent awakening as well.

Hanif had been asleep when he heard a commotion. He got up as the bedroom door was forced open by police. "I saw a guy with a machine gun pointing and he hit me on the side of the head straight away with the butt. Another man hit me behind my knees, then tied my hands with plasticuffs. I saw blood coming from my head. The guy noticed it and took a bandage out and put it on me."
So that's all right then. They also had their DNA and fingerprints taken for the trouble. It's worth remembering that it took 78 officers for Brian Haw's protest to be "cleaned up"; even more are seemingly required to stand around and do nothing but make up the numbers so that it looks even more dramatic. What we are supposed to believe is that the police's intelligence was both correct and obviously so life threatening that such a raid was required immediately, and in today's climate we have to give the benefit of the doubt. What rankles however is that the supposed intelligence which goes into such raids is not of the same quality which goes out to the newspapers, who have printed such contradictory and sensational stories. If it turns out that there is no such device, or that other "possibility", that it may be elsewhere, then the damage done could be palpable. While these raids may become more common, the police really need to get their stories straight, and the media has to play its role as a "honest" broker better as well.

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Sun-watch: Family newspaper? Revolting?

The knives have been out for Heather Mills ever since (and probably before) her marriage to Paul McCartney. The Sun, that paragon of values and British fair play, has managed to find a dirty book which supposedly features Mills performing hardcore sex acts.

LADY Heather McCartney posed in depraved pornographic clinches which are bound to sicken her estranged husband Sir Paul and his army of fans.

The ex-model was snapped in a string of lurid scenes for a hard core German book.

Many of the images are too explicit to print in a family newspaper.

No doubt they are. Not that that stops the Sun from printing a gorgeous pouting lovely without a top on every single day on its third page. You see, that's not depraved or explicit; that's just a bit of fun. Mills no doubt did the pictures for the money, which the Sun certainly can't be accused of doing. Over on its site, you can err, get today's picture by texting their service which charges you for the privilege. Further down the site you can vote for your favourite page 3 "fresher"; essentially a readers' wives section where you can give one of the lovely ladies a chance to have a professional shoot, which wouldn't be anything like the one which Mills took part in.

In other scenes, Heather and the man appear to have sex and perform sex acts while watching themselves in a mirror. And in yet more, Heather ends up naked during a game of strip poker.

By a bizarre coincidence, now has.... a casino!
The sexiest casino in the world is cheering on Becks & Co in the World Cup with its own special offer. You can play all your favourite casino games for fun or for real whilst cheering England to glory!

Now 38 and mum to Sir Paul’s two-year-old Beatrice, she stopped at very little when she took part in the revolting snaps for Die Freuden Der Liebe — The Joys Of Love.

Yes, if there's one thing that Rebekah Wade doesn't like, it's her newspaper being revolting. After all, her name sake, Rebekah Parmar Teasdale, was fired for taking part in racier shoots, only to be brought back on the day Wade ascended to the editor's chair so that the page 3 girl could be called "Rebekah" and pour scorn on whispers that Wade might ditch page 3. Not being revolting of course didn't extend to the almost pornographic way it described the apparent death of murdered teenager Rochelle Holness, only to find that their source had it completely wrong. The family of Rochelle called the Sun's behaviour "as inhumane as John McGrady's", the girl's killer. It also didn't extend to the Sun's tale of how two of their page 3 girls fell in "love", but I suppose that is neither here nor there.

The filthy volume features 112 pages filled with pictures — and contains NO accompanying words.

Yes, clearly a poor editing decision. Unlike that of Rebekah Wade, who decided to equip each of her lovelies with lines of pure political propaganda, aka the News in Briefs which accompany the girls on Page 3.

Oh, and did I mention that the Sun, despite saying that most of the pictures are too explicit to print in a "family" newspaper, does provide 7 of them for your own one-handed delights on their website, 3 of which clearly show Mills' breasts. On each picture, tastefully adding words to the proceedings, is the legend "OUR LAWYERS ARE WATCHING". Not just your lawyers, I'm afraid.

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Media Grauniad.

One of the joys of the English language is that perfectly normal and acceptable sentence structures can still be hilarious. Take this, from the Guardian, reporting on Hugh Grant and Jemima Khan suing the Daily Mail:

Solicitors acting for Hugh Grant and Jemima Khan are taking legal action against the Daily Mail over an article about their relationship printed at the weekend.

The Four Weddings and a Funeral actor and his heiress girlfriend have instructed London solicitors Schillings to begin legal proceedings against the Mail over an article on Saturday May 3 headlined "I never knew he was such a good actor."

The pair claim the article is "false and defamatory"


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